Everyone Present at Your Wedding is a Guest

by Jennifer Cram - Brisbane Marriage Celebrant © (27/07/2021) 
Categories: | Wedding Ceremony | Wedding Planning |
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Whiteboard sign on chalkboard background
                        with a pink peony in the foreground. Sign reads
                        Everyone present at your wedding is a guest
                        inclusing you
Everyone present at your wedding is a guest, including the two of you! This is something to take to heart. It's not just about being kind and considerate, it is also about social media use.  And about people present at your wedding or connected to it in some way, spilling the beans prematurely, for example posting photographs or comments before you have an opportunity to share with family and friends who were not able to attend, or, if you have chosen to elope, before you've had a chance to tell friends and loved ones that you got married.

The way it used to be

In the 20th century, and earlier, wedding etiquette (the code that controlled how people behaved through a shared understanding of what was regarded to be proper and acceptable) differentiated very clearly between the couple, the wedding party, the parents, the guests, the celebrant (usually a religious leader), and providers of wedding related services.

How it is different now

There is a good reason why airlines, cruise ships, restaurants and others use the term guest rather than passenger, customer, or client. It sends a powerful message to staff. But it also sends the message to the paying customer that certain standards are expected of them and that they can legally be refused entry or asked to leave just in the same way as you have the right to decide who comes into your home and to require them to leave if you wish.

At today's weddings everyone has became a guest, duty bound to observe your wishes as the marrying couple. This includes you wishes/preferences about taking photos and videos of your wedding and sharing photographs or commentary via social media before, during, or after your wedding. That includes the celebrant and other wedding vendors taking selfies with you (unthinkable even a decade ago) or posting photographs, videos, and comments for the purpose of marketing their own services.

You, the marrying couple are, in many senses, also guests of the wedding venue and of the company providing the mode of transportation to and from the ceremony and reception. You are on their property or in their vehicle.

The consequences of the marrying couple behaving badly

Yes, it is your day. But hi-jacking the ceremony to take selfies or ignoring your guests in favor of live-tweeting your own wedding or sharing every minute on Facebook or Instagram in real time is not only bad manners, it will prevent you from fully experiencing your own wedding.

The consequences of the wedding party behaving badly

Nothing compromises one of the iconic moments of a wedding quicker than a bridesmaid posting photos of the bride trying on her wedding gown in the store. Because your bridal party are in on many of the decisions about which your guests will not (or should not) have any information until the wedding unfolds on the day, if they aren’t fully aware of what your wishes are, and are insufficiently invested in your happiness, things can go horribly awry.

The consequences of wedding guests behaving badly

Regardless of the wishes of the couple, 21st century etiquette is that one always respects the privacy of others when taking photos, shooting video, and sharing either, and that you do not post or share offensive material or material that may cause embarrassment.

The consequences of ignoring these rules of etiquette, which is, after all, a standard of respectful behaviour, can be far-reaching in ways that it may be impossible to predict. It isn’t just a matter of wedding guests armed with smart phones hanging arms out into the aisle, standing up in place, holding devices over their heads, or stepping into the aisle, photo bombing or blocking the view of the professional photographer and ruining photographs of iconic moments. Consequences can affect you, the couple, but also other guests. In a world where employers, friends, family, and authorities routinely scan social media, personal relationships can be wrecked, careers damaged, and future financial viability compromised. In extreme cases it could lead to criminal charges or to putting an individual into harm’s way.

At the personal level, giving in to the urge to document every part of a wedding can be more about accruing likes or retweets at the cost of actually experiencing the wedding. The result is a less than emotionally satisfying experience for both you and your guests.

The consequences of your celebrant behaving badly

Yes, it does happen! With rapidly increasing numbers of celebrants it is prudent to consider how the needs of celebrants to market themselves may impact on your wedding. If your celebrant's personal needs intrude – for example by the celebrant taking selfies with you during the ceremony, or intruding on your guests congratulating you immediately after the ceremony to take selfies with you, by overtly selling themself during the ceremony, or by posting photographs or information about you and your ceremony on a business website, Facebook page, or in advertising material - you have no control over who accesses that information or those images and for what purposes they might be used. There is also significant potential for the experience of your wedding to be severely compromised for everyone present, especially you, the marrying couple.

The consequences of wedding service providers behaving badly

In common with independent celebrants, all other wedding service providers, including your photographer, tend to be small business owners who rely as much on marketing themselves as on marketing their services. This can result in their business websites and blogs, together with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram being used in a very personal way, with regular updates as to their activities. The latest wedding is always, therefore, a potentially rich source of information with which to strut their stuff. And whatever they post will always be publicly available, meaning it could be taken to be an endorsement by you of the business, and may be copied and used for purposes of which you would not approve.
Thanks for reading!

Jenny xxx Let's
                    talk soon about how you can have the best ceremony
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